Playground fit for royalty
Published Tuesday, 23 February 2021
The new playground at Kings Meadow Recreation Ground is barely recognisable from its former self and is now open for the community to enjoy.
The new play and recreation area, with £80,000 of grant and community funding, plus council investment, is significantly larger than the old playground. Most of the old equipment has been removed and in its place stands exciting new pieces, including swings, a pod swing, a multi-play unit, a zip wire, and a large climbing frame to name a few, and features to encourage imaginative play, such as a moat, a mound and a playhouse for younger children.
“A big thank you to The Friends of Kings Meadow and local people and businesses as it is your passion and commitment that have driven this exciting project forward providing a better play space for local children. This is what Friends of Parks groups can and do achieve and we are pleased to be part of this, with idverde, our parks and greenspace contractor” said Councillor William Huntington-Thresher, Executive Councillor for Environment and Community Services.
Caroline Navin, Chair of Friends of Kings Meadow said, “This play area and the local park can have and has such a positive impact for our children and benefits us all and future generations too. This whole project has always been about improving local play facilities for local children and I am really pleased we have managed to successfully achieve this. We are so grateful for the community’s support throughout the project – from donations to volunteering to attending events – all of which has been key to making the new playground a reality.”
Soon after setting up as a new Friends of Parks group in January 2018, the Friends approached the council via its park services contractor, idverde, to make significant improvements to the playground.
Whilst the play project was being developed, the Friends group led a number of park improvements, such as building and planting a community flower bed, repairing perimeter fences and creating a dedicated wildlife garden. These volunteering opportunities, together with events in the park have helped build a sense of community and pride in the local park.
Local people and parks visitors responded to consultation and helped create the playground specification, collated by the Friends group. The playground was to go from a limited offering, mostly for young children, to a modern, enlarged play and recreation area, for children of all ages and abilities, complete with picnic tables, free play space, planted areas and more seating.
Then began the long road to raise funds for the project, totalling more than £80k once additional on-going maintenance costs were also factored in. The Friends of Kings Meadow launched a crowdfunding campaign which raised over £5k. As well as contributing to the overall funding of the project, the crowdfunding campaign enabled the community to really show its support for the project and fully get behind it. This was highly significant when seeking grants from funders, which were interested in supporting projects determined by local people with a real interest in improving the spaces where they lived for the benefit of all.
The tenacity, commitment and hard work of the Friends of Kings Meadow, with support from idverde and the council, enabled a number of grants to be secured . The main grant of £50k came from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, with £25,000 of council funding too. Other grants were secured from Co-op Local Community Fund, Clarion Futures, idverde Community Investment Fund and The Brun Bear Foundation.
Whilst the playground is now open, over the coming weeks, the local community will see further additions to the play area. Planting will be completed, more seating installed and there will be a permanent board to mark the opening of the playground and thank the community and all funders.
Going forward, the Friends group will be seeking feedback to the new play and recreation ground and it is hoped that once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, the Friends of Kings Meadow can continue its work in enhancing community cohesion, making park improvements and offering volunteer opportunities.
Notes to editors: The council’s contractor, idverde, manages and maintain parks and greenspaces in partnership with Friends of Parks groups.
Prior to Covid-19 restrictions, the Friends ran a series of community events. These will be resumed when social distancing regulations are no longer in place. To find out more about the Friends of Kings Meadow, you can visit their Facebook page @kingsmeadowbromley or visit www.friendsofkingsmeadow.co.uk
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